IBN NHL season preview : Eastern Conference
posted Oct 01 2013, 12:52PM
story by David Loret
posted in NHL, Analysis

After lockout-shortened season, a brand new 82-game season started this week as the Blackhawks will try to defend their Stanley Cup in a realigned NHL. You can say good bye to the Northwest , the Southeast and the Northeast Division and welcome the Metropolitan Division … But don’t worry if your lost, here is the official IBN breakdown division by division

Co-wrote by Incarcerated Bob (@incarceratedbob)

 

Metropolitan Division

Carolina Hurricanes
2013 record: 19-25-4, 13th in the East

Notable adds: D Ron Hainsey (Jets), D Mike Komisarek (Maple Leafs), F Nathan Gerbe (Sabres), G Anton Khudobin (Bruins), F Aaron Palushaj (Avalanche), D Andrej Sekera (Sabres)
Notable losses:  D Jamie McBain (Sabres), D Joe Corvo (Senators), D Marc-Andre Bergeron (Switzerland), G Dan Ellis (Stars), F Chad Larose (UFA), F Tim Brent (Russia)

David’s take : They have, on paper, a very good team … but that’s when the injuries come to strike. The season-ending injury to Joni Pitkanen might be the biggest blow to the Hurricanes chances to make it to the playoffs in this hell of a division. They had the 29th overall defense in the NHL last year and have lost their best defenseman … If the rest of the group doesn’t step up, Carolina’s season might end before it even starts. On the plus side the youngster Skinner keeps getting better and the Staal brothers are always in the middle of the action contributing to wins, a nice under the radar signing that will help is skilled forward Nathan Gerbe (Former Sabres Center) expect a good year from the "Big" guy... 

Prediction : 8th.

Bob’s take : 6TH Place

 

Columbus Blue Jackets
2013 record: 24-17-7, 9th in the West
Notable adds: F Nathan Horton (Bruins), F Jack Skille (Panthers)
Notable losses: F Vaclav Prospal (UFA)

David’s take : This division is stacked. CBJ is my dark horse to a playoff berth this year, this is the best Blue Jackets team in their history and they are right there with the Flyers, Isles and Capitals in the hunt for the playoffs. Look out for them to make a big push once Nathan Horton is healthy.

Prediction : 6th.

Bob’s take : 4TH Place (8TH Playoff Seed)

 

New Jersey Devils
2013 record: 19-19-10, 11th in the East

Notable adds: G Cory Schneider (Canucks), F Jaromir Jagr (Bruins), F Damien Brunner (Red Wings), F Michael Ryder (Canadiens), F Ryane Clowe (Rangers), F Rostislav Olesz (Blackhawks)
Notable losses:  F Ilya Kovalchuk (Russia), F David Clarkson (Maple Leafs), F Alexei Ponikarovsky (Russia), D Henrik Tallinder (Sabres), G Johan Hedberg (UFA), F Krys Barch (Panthers)

David’s take : This is heart-breaking. Lou did a fantastic job with the acquisition of Schneider but what we will remember from the Devils’ off season is the “retirement” of Ilya Kovalchuk. Despite the additions of Ryder, Jagr & Clowe, Ilya will be missed (as well as Clarkson) and I expect the Devils to struggle this year. This will also be the last season we get to see Marty Brodeur work his magic in net, that will also be a sad day when the best goalie of this generation calls it quits.

Prediction : 7th.

Bob’s take : 7TH Place 

 

New York Islanders
2013 record: 24-17-7, 8th in the East, lost to Pegnuins in conference quarter-finals

Notable adds: F Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Wild), F Cal Clutterbuck (Wild), F Peter Regin (Senators)
Notable losses:  D Mark Streit (Flyers), F Nino Niederreiter (Wild), G Rick DiPietro (UFA), F Brad Boyes (Panthers)

David’s take : The boys from Long Island cannot be considered a joke anymore! What they showed in the playoffs and despite losing to the Penguins, should only make them better. They lost Streit but their defense is still solid with the likes of Harmonic and MacDonald. They have an MVP candidate in John Tavares … Isles are also stocked with legit firepower on 3 lines (Moulson ' Grabner ' Okie ' Bailey ' Nielsen) and don't forget they have some rookies chomping at the bit (Strome ' Nelson ' Lee) this could be the highest scoring Islanders team we have seen since the Turgeon/King/Houge/Thomas days of the mid 90's. The only real issue is in net with Nabokov. Some will say the veteran isn’t reliable enough to be considered a big time goalie come playoff time, the Isles might need to make a move later in the year to shore up any goaltending issues. 

Prediction : 4th.

Bob’s take : 2ND Place (4TH Playoff Seed)

 

New York Rangers
2013 record: 26-18-4, 6th in the East, lost to Bruins in conference semi-finals
Notable adds: D Justin Falk (Wild), F Benoit Pouliot (Lightning), F Dominic Moore (DNP)
Notable losses: F Ryane Clowe (Devils), D Steve Eminger (Russia), D Matt Gilroy (Panthers)

David’s take : Right now, we can ask the question that most Rangers fans are afraid of. Are the Rangers really the best team in NY? Is "King" Henrik really clutch enough to carry this team on another Stanley Cup Run? Will Alain Vigneault succeed in NYC or will he be overwhelmed with the pressures of a big market hockey team? They have talent that most would say could make a strong run at the Cup, but team chemistry might be a problem and ultimately i see this team taking a huge step back this year. Another factor is the fact Henrik is a FA after the year, so that could negatively affect his play and that's why i see this Rangers squad missing the playoffs.

Prediction : 2nd.

Bob’s take : 6TH Place

 

Philadelphia Flyers
2013 record: 23-22-3, 10th in the East

Notable adds: D Mark Streit (Islanders), F Vincent Lecavalier (Lightning), G Ray Emery (Blackhawks)
Notable losses:  F Daniel Briere (Canadiens), G Ilya Bryzgalov (UFA), F Ruslan Fedotenko (Russia), D Kurtis Foster (Russia), F Jody Shelley (retired)

David’s take : Last year wasn’t what Flyers fans expected. Granted, they got rid of some of their mistakes ( see Bryzgalov, Ilya. ) and made some interesting additions to their roster. Question is, can those Flyers ( who are getting older .. ) help this underachieving team make it to the playoffs?  I think so as they won’t be ravaged by injuries. There’s still some question marks like their Goalies but it should be a bounce back year from Philly. Also expect a monster year from Claude Giroux.

Prediction : 3rd.

Bob’s take : 8TH Place

 

Pittsburgh Penguins
2013 record: 36-12-0, 1st in the East, lost to Bruins in conference finals

Notable adds: D Rob Scuderi (Kings), F Matt D'Agostini (Devils)
Notable losses: F Jarome Iginla (Bruins), F Brenden Morrow (Blues), D Douglas Murray (Canadiens), F Matt Cooke (Wild), F Tyler Kennedy (Sharks)

David’s take : One last chance for Fleury. That’s it. There’s nothing more to say about the Penguins this season. They signed Scuderi to help the defense, signed some vets for the bottom six and will expect good things from Beau Bennett … but everything will rely on #29, especially since Vokoun’s injury will have him out for several months. The Penguins will be a playoff team, there’s little doubt about it, but if Fleury doesn’t step up despite coaching staff additions specially made for that … He will be out of town or at the very least, catching splinters while sitting his ass on the bench during the Cup run. As always expect 2-3 big moves by the always aggressive Penguins, once the trade deadline comes near.

Prediction : 1st.

Bob’s take : 1ST Place (1ST Playoff Seed)

 

Washington Capitals
2013 record: 27-18-3, 3rd in the East, lost to Rangers in conference quarter-finals
Notable adds: F Mikhail Grabovski (Maple Leafs), D Tyson Strachan (Panthers)
Notable losses: F Mike Ribeiro (Coyotes), F Joey Crabb (Panthers), F Matt Hendricks (Predators), D Jeff Schultz (Kings), F Wojtek Wolski (Russia)

David’s take : Thanks to an insane run from Ovechkin and finally getting on the same page with head coach Adam Oates, some people are already sold over the Caps ability. I’m not one of them. Their defense isn’t good enough to be considered as a legit playoff team. And remember, this time, they don’t play in the Southeast Division … One move that will pay dividends is the late FA pickup Grabovski (Former Leaf) nice addition that should make a good PP even better.

Prediction : 5th.
 
Bob’s take : 3RD Place (6TH Playoff Seed)

 

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins
2013 record: 28-14-6, 4th in the East, lost to Blackhawks in Stanley Cup Final.

Notable adds: F Loui Eriksson (Stars), F Jarome Iginla (Penguins), F Reilly Smith (Stars)
Notable losses: F Tyler Seguin (Stars), F Nathan Horton (Blue Jackets), F Rich Peverley (Stars), D Andrew Ference (Oilers)

David’s take : We should give credit to Boston’s GM Peter Chiarelli. Really. The Bruins fell two games short of the Cup and while a lot of people wouldn’t have tried to change everything, he did. He decided to trade Seguin and Peverly, and let Nathan Horton walk. He finally got the player he wanted at last year’s trade Deadline (Iginla ..) and added one of the most underrated players in the NHL (Eriksson). Are the Bruins a better team? Maybe. But despite all those moves, it will be up to Tuuka Rask to prove to everyone that he is as good as it gets.

Prediction : 1st.

Bob’s take : 2ND Place (3RD Playoff Seed)

 

Buffalo Sabres
2013 record: 21-21-6, 12th in the East

Notable adds: D Henrik Tallinder (Devils), D Jamie McBain (Hurricanes)
Notable losses:  F Nathan Gerbe (Hurricanes), D Andrej Sekera (Hurricanes), D Adam Pardy (Jets)

David’s take : The Sabres might be coming to an end of an era. Both Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek are UFAs at the end of the season and they still have a ton of holes to contend for a playoff spot. Let’s hope for them that Tyler Myers won’t be as disappointing as he was last year. After all, Sabres fans deserves a little ray of hope in what could be a long season. Darcy Regier (GM) may be at the end of the line, but expect him to unload both Miller & Vanek once the season gets ugly, which could be before the Olympic break.

Prediction : 8th.

Bob’s take : 8TH Place

 

Detroit Red Wings
2013 record: 24-16-8, 7th in the West, lost to Blackhawks in conference semi-finals

Notable adds: F Daniel Alfredsson (Senators), F Stephen Weiss (Panthers)
Notable losses: F Valtteri Filppula (Lightning), F Damien Brunner (Devils)

David’s take : NEVER count out the Red Wings. That’s what we learned last year and with the addition of Alfredsson and Weiss, they might have one of the best groups of Forward in the entire NHL. Being in the East will not effect this veteran squad, only issue will be the strength of the "D" and will Howard take the next step to elite status... They will go to the playoffs!

Prediction : 3rd.

Bob’s take : 3RD Place (5TH Playoff Seed)

 

Florida Panthers
2013 record: 15-27-6, 15th in the East

Notable adds: G Tim Thomas (Islanders), F Scott Gomez (Sharks), F Joey Crabb (Capitals), D Matt Gilroy (Rangers), F Brad Boyes (Islanders), F Krys Barch (Devils), D Tom Gilbert (Wild)
Notable losses: F Stephen Weiss (Red Wings), F George Parros (Canadiens), F Peter Mueller (Switzerland), G Jose Theodore (UFA), D Filip Kuba (UFA), F Jack Skille (Blue Jackets)

David’s take : They might surprise and not be the worse team in the division like they were last year but losing Weiss will be a tough blow. However, with Tim Thomas in net, you just never know. The only thing sure about this season is that the Panthers will be a way better team than they were last year and will hope that Jonathan Huberdeau takes the next step, hopefully no sophomore slump.

Prediction : 6th.

Bob’s take : 7TH Place

 

Montreal Canadiens
2013 record: 29-14-5, 2nd in the East, lost to Senators in conference quarter-finals

Notable adds: F Daniel Briere (Flyers), F George Parros (Panthers), D Douglas Murray (Penguins)
Notable losses:  F Michael Ryder (Devils), F Petteri Nokelainen (Sweden), D Tomas Kaberle (Russia)

David’s take : Montreal has an even tougher challenge this year as all the top teams in the division got better in the off season. They fell flat in the playoffs despite being a #2 seed against the Senators. Carey Price is one of the best goalies in the NHL but the issue and their season might come down to their defense. Emelin is injured, Diaz isn’t very good and they play in a division with 4 other playoff contending teams. Sadly, I feel that they didn’t improve enough to steal one of the playoffs spots this year.

Prediction : 5th.

Bob’s take : 5TH Place

 

Ottawa Senators
2013 record: 25-17-6, 7th in the East, lost to Penguins in conference semi-finals

Notable adds: F Bobby Ryan (Ducks), F Clarke MacArthur (Maple Leafs), D Joe Corvo (Hurricanes)
Notable losses: F Daniel Alfredsson (Red Wings), F Jakob Silfverberg (Ducks), D Sergei Gonchar (Stars)

David’s take : The other “Big Trade” of this offseason belongs to Ottawa. They lost the face of the franchise in Daniel Alfresson but decided to add Bobby Ryan. Now, the Sens problems are all about injuries. Their offense was decimated last year and they will start the season at full strengh. We saw them playing pretty good hockey despite being short-handed late last year and they might be a very dangerous club come playoffs time if everyone is healthy. When you have Anderson in net you will be in every game, i see a big run coming from this team and possible upset maker in the 1st round of playoffs.

Prediction : 2nd.

Bob’s take : 4TH Place (7TH Playoff Seed)

 

Tampa Bay Lightning
2013 record: 18-26-4, 14th in the East, out of playoffs

Notable adds: F Valterri Filppula (Red Wings)
Notable losses:  F Vincent Lecavalier (Flyers), F Benoit Pouliot (Rangers), D Brendan Mikkelson (Penguins)

David’s take : In this first post-Vinny Lecavalier season, I expect the Lightning to struggle some. They have an explosive offense, but their defense might be the worst in the entire league and will ultimately be too much to overcome for the Bolts. Hedman still hasn't become the big time d-man everyone thought he would be when he came out of the draft, so that may become an issue if his play declines again this year.

Predictions : 7th.

Bob’s take : 7TH Place

 

Toronto Maple Leafs
2013 record: 26-17-5, 5th in the East, lost to Bruins in conference quarter-finals

Notable adds: G Jonathan Bernier (Kings), F Dave Bolland (Blackhawks), F David Clarkson (Devils), D Paul Ranger (DNP)
Notable losses:  F Mikhail Grabovski (Capitals), F Matt Frattin (Kings), G Ben Scrivens (Kings), F Leo Komarov (KHL), D Mike Komisarek (Hurricanes), D Mike Kostka (Blackhawks), F Clarke MacArthur (Senators), Joe Colborne (Flames)

David’s take : Their playoff stint was heart breaking for all the Leafs fans but after years of mediocrity, Toronto finally will have a competitive hockey team. They will be in the mix, once again, to be a part of this year’s playoffs. Bolland and Clarkson are tremendous additions that suits perfectly Carlyle’s style of play. The goalie situation went from one of the worse in league to probably now one of the best (Bernier ' Reimer) both are #1 quality goalies so watch out NHL the Leafs have arrived!

Prediction : 4th.

Bob’s take : 1ST Place (2ND Playoff Seed)

 

NHL EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF SEEDING

1. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

2. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

3. BOSTON BRUINS

4. NY ISLANDERS

5. DETROIT RED WINGS

6. WASHINGTON CAPITALS

7. OTTAWA SENATORS

8. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

David Loret
From Paris. Editor-in-Chief. IBN Senior MMA and WWE Writer....





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